Prepared for the |
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
To contact the Presidents Conference:
Katyusha Rocket Hit Haifa Oil Refineries During Second Lebanon War - Fadi Eyadat (Ha'aretz)
- March 22, 2007
Issue of the Week:
A Palestinian State?
Hamas TV: Four-Year-Old Daughter of Suicide Bomber Vows to Follow in Her Footsteps - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
New UN Rights Panel Still a Disgrace - Editorial (Chicago Sun-Times)
Holocaust Inversion: The Portraying of Israel and Jews as Nazis - Manfred Gerstenfeld (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
Israel's Sacred Golf Course - A. Craig Copetas (Bloomberg)
Israel: Small Country, Big Impression - Julie Burchill (Times-UK)
News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
The UN Security Council will vote Saturday on a new sanctions resolution on Iran, Britain's ambassador to the UN, Emyr Jones-Parry, said Thursday. Iranian President Ahmadinejad has asked to speak to the Council ahead of a vote, and he has been granted a visa to travel to New York, but it was not clear when he might arrive. (CNN)
See also Major Powers Submit Final Iran Draft - Alexandra Olson
The new sanctions would ban Iranian arms exports and freeze the assets of 28 additional individuals and organizations involved in Iran's nuclear and missile programs. About a third of those are linked to the Revolutionary Guard, an elite military corps. (AP/Guardian-UK)
The U.S. has quietly joined Israel in urging Arab leaders to reformulate their 2002 peace offer in an effort to end the decades-long Middle East conflict, Arab diplomats said Thursday. So far, some Arab heavyweights are publicly resisting the idea. Three Arab diplomats in different Arab capitals said Washington has been pressing for changes to make the offer in line with the "Roadmap." (AP/Washington Post)
Secretary of State Rice is trying to make progress on the creation of a Palestinian state, but her goals have been thwarted by the changing realities on the ground. Now Rice is headed on her fourth Middle East trip in four months with a new game plan. She still wants to coax the Israelis into giving the Palestinians what she calls a "political horizon" - the glimmerings of a Palestinian state. But, at the same time, she wants the Arabs to also sketch a "political horizon" for the Israelis - the beginnings of recognition to give the Israeli government more room to strike a deal. (Washington Post)
Former UN Ambassador John Bolton on Thursday defended Israel's war with the Hizbullah militia in Lebanon last summer as legitimate and one that had the support of several Arab countries as well as the U.S. "We did not try and shape Israel's strategic objective, but we would not have opposed Israel's decision to eliminate Hizbullah," Bolton said. The fighting was touched off by Hizbullah's slaying of three Israeli soldiers and capture of two others, who are still held. Israel destroyed a significant part of Hizbullah's capacity in the war, but in the aftermath, a UN arms embargo has not been enforced and Hizbullah has been able to rearm, Bolton said. (AP/FOX News)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Senior Hamas terrorist Ibrahim Hamad was charged recently with the murder of 36 Israeli civilians in Jerusalem since 2002. The military court in Judea ruled that he was guilty of coordinating the suicide bombing at the Moment Cafe in which 11 people were killed; the suicide attack at the Sheffield Club in which 16 people were killed; and the bombing at Hebrew University in which 9 people were killed. (Ha'aretz)
Despite the Mecca agreement, the hatred between Hamas and Fatah has not disappeared. On Wednesday, Hamas activists surrounded the home of Fatah Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade leader Samih al-Madhoun, fired RPG missiles at the house, and killed one of his bodyguards. The incident set off a wave of kidnappings.
"Every day there are new violent conflicts," says A., a Gaza businessman. "Just three days ago Hamas men set fire to the shop of a CD seller in the Jabalya refugee camp for making CDs of songs supporting Mohammed Dahlan and Fatah....Ten days ago members of the Hamas Executive Force attacked the Fatah offices in Beit Hanun and destroyed them completely." BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped about 10 days ago, has yet to be released. Nearly every day Palestinians are kidnapped in Gaza. (Ha'aretz)
See also Child Killed in Renewed Palestinian Infighting - Ali Waked
A two-year-old boy was killed in the crossfire during fighting between Hamas and Fatah on Thursday night. Hassan Abu Nada is the fifth fatality since the onset of renewed infighting on Wednesday. Clashes broke out after Rami Sarur, a member of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, was killed in Beit Lahiya on Wednesday. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
The Saudi initiative that would divide Jerusalem, a proposal which was endorsed by the Arab League in 2002, is expected to be a central point of discussion at an Arab League summit in Riyadh at the end of the month. After meeting Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas, Secretary of State Rice will fly to Egypt to meet her Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, and United Arab Emirates counterparts to discuss, one State Department official said, "strategies for marketing the Arab peace offer." A State Department official said one of the goals of the meeting will be to discuss the kinds of steps they can take to persuade Israel to start new negotiations.
Former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dore Gold said: "Those who believe that redividing Jerusalem by advancing the Saudi plan will lower the flames of radical Islamic rage have absolutely no idea of what they are dealing with. Any proposal to give the Hamas government the hope of taking over Jerusalem will shoot up jihadism in the region by giving new hope to al-Qaeda affiliates that Jerusalem is within their grasp." (New York Sun)
See also Not a Peace Initiative, But Rather a Public Relations Stunt for America - Jacky Hogy
The wind blowing in the last few weeks from Jerusalem concerning the Saudi initiative is not sweeping with it Prof. Joseph Kostiner from Tel Aviv University. The senior Arabist, an analyst with a world-wide reputation who specializes in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, prefers to see this peace formula sink into the dustbin of history and be replaced by another. "The Saudis themselves did not believe that Israel would accept the plan," he stresses. The authors of the initiative didn't direct it to Israeli ears at all. The 9/11 attacks created a hostile environment in the U.S. for its friends in Riyadh. "They [the Saudis] wanted to demonstrate before American public opinion their positive side. It was not coincidental that the initiative was first floated with the American newspaperman Thomas Friedman on 13 February 2002. But the strategic aim was not to reach peace, but rather to use the American conception of peace." (Maariv-Hebrew, 23Mar07)
In recent months, we've seen Saudi Arabia publicly blast Hizbullah for launching an unprovoked war on Israel; we've seen King Abdullah forge a cease-fire between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza; we've seen him try to tame Iran's president; and there are rumors that a top Saudi official met with Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert. Saudi Arabia becoming more assertive could have real benefits, provided that the leader of Saudi Arabia is ready to do what the leader of Egypt did when it comes to making peace with Israel.
What the moribund Israeli-Palestinian talks need most today is an emotional breakthrough. Another Arab declaration, just reaffirming the Abdullah initiative, won't cut it. If King Abdullah wants to lead - and he has the integrity and credibility to do so - he needs to fly from the Riyadh summit to Jerusalem and deliver the offer personally to the Israeli people. That is what Egypt's Anwar Sadat did when he forged his breakthrough.
An Abdullah initiative delivered in this way would also be a vehicle to tell Hamas to put up or shut up. It is one thing for Hamas to reject the Oslo peace accords. But how could it reject a peace overture to Israel presented by Saudi Arabia? If the Saudi king just wants to score some points, he will hold the Arab summit, re-issue the peace plan and go home. If he wants to make history and make peace, he will hold the Arab summit, re-issue the peace plan, and deliver it in person. (New York Times, 23Mar07)
The terms of the Palestinian unity government end much of the residual ambiguity lingering in the wake of the Mecca accord. Those who withheld judgment amid hope that the status quo would improve are - like the Quartet members themselves - disappointed. On balance, it is difficult to view the new government as anything but a major step backward on the road to coexistence. By avoiding references to mutual recognition, the government's platform marks the increasingly Islamist tone of Palestinian politics. Expectations that Rice's trip to the Middle East would produce dramatic progress looked slim before the Palestinian unity government was formed. Given the stated platform of that government, the chances of a breakthrough at this time are virtually nil. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
In the words of Henry Kissinger: "There are all kinds of tactical discussions about how to deal with Iran....But there are a number of fundamental principles to keep in mind. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons, we will live in a new world. That is the fundamental issue we must face. And our only choice is either to prevent it, or to pay the price of not having prevented it. We have to understand how much time we have and what, in all the discussion of tactics, the penalties are that we can exact. But above all we have to know that this is not a tactical issue. This is a fundamental issue of a historical turn."
In dealing with the Iran tyranny, prudence dictates we assume the worst, especially when no serious international inspection of Iran's nuclear program has been agreed to by the warmongering Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Because Neville Chamberlain didn't think the worst of Adolf Hitler, millions and millions of people paid a price in lives and treasure. Because we didn't think the worst of Islamofascism, the attacks of September 11, 2001, happened. Sweeping and enforceable sanctions - now - against Iran is the first step. The writer is a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. (Washington Times)
In the Middle East, the attempt to turn radicals into moderates, terrorism into resistance, serial political murderers into negotiating partners, and situations of total anarchy into great opportunities for diplomatic progress never ends. Far too much quality time of leaders, policymakers, and diplomats is spent on the impossible - or at least highly improbable.
Like Syria and Iran, Hamas does not want to be moderate. Unlike them, it hardly pretends otherwise. It continues to make clear its virulent anti-Semitism and goal of destroying Israel. Yet a huge amount of time and energy is going into this dead-end effort at moderating Hamas. Suddenly, at the worst possible moment in history for success, resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become the top priority for many governments. Fatah has collapsed; Hamas is extremist and believes time is on its side; and every Israeli concession has inspired escalation by the Palestinians and others. The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center of the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. (Jerusalem Post)
A year and a half after Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza so many problems remained unresolved that analysts believe it unlikely Israel would go for a similar pullback in the West Bank. According to Hebrew University Professor Yaakov Bar-Siman-Tov, the Gaza withdrawal signaled the end of the idea of "land for peace." Bar-Siman-Tov doubted there would be another unilateral disengagement in the near future. In the past seven years Israel carried out two unilateral withdrawals: from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005. Both did not provide peace.
The Islamic Hamas claimed its fighters forced the Israelis out of Gaza, and Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said he believed the disengagement demonstrated Israel's weakness, Bar-Siman-Tov noted. When Hizbullah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and triggered a month-long war, "the entire strategy of a unilateral disengagement was dealt a serious blow. It was proven, for the second time, that it was ineffective (in producing peace)." Gazans have also continued cross-border attacks. (UPI)
A new Palestinian movement was launched Wednesday in Ramallah in the West Bank aimed at the moderate middle of Muslim politics. Wasatia - Arabic for "moderation" - is the first Islamic religious party to advocate a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a tolerant, democratic society at home. Political science professor Mohammed Dajani, director of the American Studies Institute at Al-Quds University in eastern Jerusalem, hopes to build Wasatia into a movement that will eventually compete with Hamas for the votes of what he calls the silent majority of Palestinians. "The new party will foster a culture of moderation and attract Palestinian voters who are moderate in their religious beliefs. The existing Palestinian Islamic parties breed radicalism and fundamentalism," Dajani said. "Charity and voluntarism - this is Islam," he said. "The creation of new jobs does not have to be related to arms and violence."
The Wasatia platform does not endorse the return of the estimated 4 million Palestinian refugees to their homes in what is now Israel. "I would say to the refugees: 'Move on with your life.' We cannot let the past bury the future, even though it should always be remembered," said Dajani. He said most Palestinians are proud of their Muslim heritage but many are uncomfortable with the fundamentalism of Hamas and Islamic Jihad and, after years of disastrous armed resistance, are tired of their extreme militarism. "We have found that hardliners are not the majority among Palestinians," said Bashar Azzeh, a doctoral student who spent seven years in the U.S. "There is a feeling that people have tried violence, they have tried everything, and this is what we need now."
"A moderate, centrist Islamic party will take support from Hamas voters who will not vote for secular parties," said Hanna Siniora, a veteran Palestinian publisher. But Mahdi Abdel Hadi, director of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, said that centrist parties won only 6 of 132 seats in last January's election. "Without alliances with powerful elites in society, this new initiative will be born dead," said Abdel Hadi. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Former Israeli spokesman Ra'anan Gissin knows how to serve as an effective spokesman. "If you want to have your words remembered, you have to use all the tricks in the book to do that - word associations, stories, sometimes mimicking....This is a world where people zap through everything. There are 100 channels on television, and people don't remember what you say." Currently out of government, Gissin is working on a yearlong research project at the Herzliya Institute on ways to spread Israel's message despite an "indifferent and often hostile media."
For example, Gissin said, instead of giving a diatribe about Islamic terror and Israel's virtues, why not try telling a couple of jokes? "You can make the same message by retelling 4,000 years of Jewish history and boring [your audience] or by telling two good jokes in 30 seconds." "Young people, bloggers, could do a marvelous job of this counter-insurgency warfare in the media without using weapons," he adds. (Jewish News Weekly of Northern California)
The Implications of a Nuclear Iran - Deputy Minister of Defense
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